November 30th– A Sunday
If I get a chance, I’m gonna kill her. Maybe run a stake through her heart. Or drown her. If I watched more horror movies, I could figure out something more creative. I heard a man sigh and my eyes dragged themselves to the culprit.
I’m not sure which one I want to kill first. Her, or her boyfriend, the sun-tanned vampire. Didn’t she get that his ability to walk in the sun made him that much worse?
And what kind of name was Stone, anyway? Sounded like a nickname.
We sat around my fireplace and sipped coffee. At least Stone was good at faking enjoyment of the aromatic drink. He closed his intensely large eyes. “I love coffee.”
“Can you even taste it?” I asked, sipping mine thoughtfully.
Tammy turned to me and scowled. Her long black hair was so loose in that bun that strands toppled over her face with the movement. “Do you mind not being an ass?”
I ignored her. Mainly because I was pissed off, also because I know it drives her nuts. Stone smiled. “Yes, I can taste it. Not everything tastes like it used to, although I don’t really remember what much of anything tasted like anymore. Still, coffee is one of the few things that tastes the same dead or alive, from what I hear.”
“You don’t know from personal experience?”
He smiled. “I wasn’t alive when coffee, as it is known today, was initially discovered. I had my first taste of it from a traveler when I was young, but then it wasn’t called coffee, and the man didn’t roast them. But I do know vampires that were around when it became this,” he lifted his cup, “and many of them are addicted to it. They claim that it feels like a bridge to their former life.”
Tammy gave me a droll stare. “Satisfied?” Her dark eyes sparkled with amusement.
I turned back to Stone. “So why are you two here?”
He glanced at Tammy before turning back to me. He adjusted his posture and sighed. “That’s for Tammy to tell you. Not me.”
“Okay, so let me ask, why are you here, Stone? Why my sister?”
“Hawthorne, I swear to the gods—”
“I’m sorry, am I not allowed to ask my sister’s boyfriend questions? That’s against the rules now?”
“What’s your problem? I thought you’d at least appreciate me coming out to the middle of fucking nowhere to come see you.”
“Normally I would be, but not like this.”
“Like what?” My gaze roamed to Stone. “Oh, you racist asshole!” Tammy stood up and stormed out of my cabin, slamming the door so hard that it flew back open.
Stone grinned. “And I thought I was good at pissing her off.”
I stood up and looked towards the door. I should go after her. I should at least try to have a conversation with her. But I had a right to be angry with her. She has no idea how dangerous it is for Dakota to be around Vampires. She should have known how I would react. I’m Dakota’s bloodline guardian. Of course I’m gonna react badly.
But I’m Tammy’s brother, too. Should I have been more supportive? Maybe. I would have been if she were dating a Zeotheon, but no. She was dating a fucking vampire. I looked back to Stone. “Don’t touch anything. And if you so much as step foot off my property, I won’t hesitate to run a stake straight through your fucking heart.”
He seemed amused by this whole ordeal, which just irritated the hell out of me. “Wouldn’t dream of it, Thorn.”
“Don’t call me that. The only ones that can get away with that are my siblings.” Not that I liked it even then.
When I stepped out, I knew exactly what she had done. She shifted into her Hawk. She always did when she was angry.
Damnit. I really didn’t want to shift. I suck at conjuring clothes. I rubbed my face and growled before changing and taking flight.
It didn’t take long for me to find her, either. She was sitting in her human form, fully clothed, about a mile from my cabin. She looked like our little sister far more than I did. I still held the same features that showed my family came from the indigenous people of this land, but those two looked like they were full-blooded Haida.
I changed several yards away from her and attempted to conjure some semblance of clothing. They looked like they had been sewn by a toddler. I don’t think I’ll ever get a handle on clothes. I walked towards her loudly to allow her time to steel herself.
Instead, she got up and started walking away. “Tammy, will you please stop?”
“Screw you, Thorn.” She stopped and turned towards me. “How dare you tell me who I should and shouldn’t love!”
My mouth dropped. I stopped several feet from her and just stared. “You love him?”
She looked startled for a moment then rolled her eyes. “That’s not what I meant. You know what I’m saying. You of all people should understand that.” I took a deep breath and looked around nervously. Was there anyone out here? Anyone that might have heard that? “Oh, give it a rest. I didn’t say anything to expose your secret. And no one’s out here. No one’s gonna find out you’re gay.”
She said the last couple of words with the exaggeration of any irritated sibling. “You know, I love you, Tammy, but sometimes you can be a real ass.”
“Yeah, well, you started it.”
“You brought a vampire to my home, Tamara!” I pointed angrily behind me. My anger increased at the fact that he was there alone because Tammy had to react like a child.
She gasped. “Don’t you dare use that name!“
“What, your real name?”
“Fuck you, Hawthorne. And he’s not just any vampire. He’s helping me with Dakota.”
That made my hackles rise. “Why? What’s wrong with Dakota?” Gods, I’m gonna have to do some damage control, I can feel it.
Tammy looked up into the trees. “There’s a rumor.” She turned her head to look at me. “Okay, don’t freak out” Yeah, that phrase is gonna make me relax, “but… I think the vampires want her.”
How did she know that? How did she find out and how much information did she know? I had a sudden jump in my heart at the idea of Moiragetes hopping in right now and giving me some cryptic warning about keeping my mouth shut.
Tammy’s face scrunched up awkwardly. “You already knew that, didn’t you?” She pointed at me like a mother scolding her child. “You already know what’s going on!”
I know how this is gonna play out. She’s gonna want me to spill my guts, tell her everything I know. I put my hands up in defense. “Don’t Tammy. Please. I can’t tell you.”
She rushed me and punched me hard in the arm. “Tell me. Now!”
“Tell me what you know first.” I fought the urge to cringe and simply rubbed the soreness out.
“Why should I?” She folded her arms across her chest and scowled.
“Because I can’t tell you anything, Tammy. I just can’t.”
“Why, because Moiragetes told you not to?” She gave me a repugnant huff and rolled her eyes.
“No, because Dakota’s safety depends on it.” I half expect Moiragetes to show up by now, but he was nowhere to be seen. I can’t tell her what I know.
Especially if she’s screwing a vampire.
“Her mother is a goddess.” She paused and watched my response, which was lacking to say the least. “Which means she’s a key to the gateways. If the vampires get her, they’ll hand her over to Victoria and then she’ll have free range to go anywhere in the known galaxies. Am I right so far?”
Shit. “Yes.” I closed my eyes and tried to shake the feel of dread from my head. “That’s why I don’t want any vampires around her, Tammy.” I opened my eyes and stared at her. She just didn’t get it. She didn’t understand how dangerous it was for our little sister. “If he can be in the sunlight, that means he’s a direct descendant of Victoria, and she can control him. How do you know she’s not controlling him now just to try and get to her?”
She looked worried now, which was what I needed. I need her to understand how much danger our little sister was in. She swallowed hard. “Because he’s looking for the legend, so he can learn how to protect himself from her. Because he knows all of this and still they haven’t gotten her yet. If he was working for her, Victoria would have already taken her.”
There’s a reason why they call her the legend. He’s gonna be searching for a very long time, if he was really looking at all. He could be just telling Tammy that to throw her off. And who says they’re not waiting? They could be making sure that she is the one before they go and abduct her. Victoria has had a few mishaps lately trying to get off this planet. If I were her, I wouldn’t want to waste a bunch of energy on something that won’t pan out. And with how well Tammy’s taught Dakota to control her emotions, it would be hard to actually see any proof of what she was. “I don’t trust him, Tammy.”
She was desperate. I could see it as clear as I could see that birthmark on her neck. “Just try, Hawthorne. Try to not judge him before you get to know him.”
I took a few cleansing breaths and tried to see it from her point of view. “I will try. But if I think for a second that he’s gonna hurt her, I won’t hesitate to kill him.” And he wouldn’t be the first one I’ve killed on her behalf.
She smiled. “I know. You wouldn’t be able to stop yourself if you tried.”
That was, sadly, very true. “So, why are you here?”
She groaned and laughed. “Ah, our favorite god told me to be scarce for a couple weeks. I was obliged to listen, only because I thought he might wipe me out of existence if I didn’t.”
“Why? Does Dakota know you’re gone?”
“Nope. Told me that I needed to be gone so that she would run into someone, blah blah blah.” She sighed and twirled in the air. “Apparently her and her boyfriend are about to have a falling out and I can’t be there to comfort her when he breaks her heart.” She tried to act as if it didn’t bother her, but I knew better. Because anything that bothered me, bothered her, too.
“You want me to go check on her, don’t you?”
“Of course I do. Because I can’t go anywhere near her without little Moira getting his panties in a twist.” I swear, she has a death wish.
“Go back to the cabin, I’ll be back in a minute.”
“I don’t mean for you to go right this minute!”
I couldn’t help but chuckle. “I just need some alone time for a minute, alright?” I needed to calm down to be honest. My senses were on edge. I needed nicotine.
“Fine, you go do your loner thing, I’ll go spike my coffee.”
And she would, too. She started to walk away when I grabbed her arm. “Sis?” She looked at me and lifted a brow. “He’s pretty cute… for a vampire, at least.”
She smiled. “He is pretty adorable. He’s got the whole ‘pouty lip’ thing going for him.”
“And did I detect a slight dimple on his cheek?”
She laughed. “Yeah, you did. It’s hot isn’t it?”
“Is Stone his real name?”
She shook her head. “No. Victoria gave it to him when she met him as a little boy.” My confusion was obvious. “I don’t know the whole story, just that his family had been shunned from his home, this place that’s now part of South Korea, and his Dad used to make fake papers or something. I don’t know, but they escaped to Japan and his Dad would send him to the docks to try and sell fake family stones. The way he described them sounded kind of like family crests with the English.”
“Weird. So she changed his name to Stone?”
“She said she didn’t like his real name.”
“Why does he go by Stone? Why not his real name?”
Tammy sighed. “Because he fought her on the name so much that she put a curse on him. Now he can’t say his real name, no matter how hard her tries.”
That would make me hate her, too. Maybe he really is looking for the legend. “I’ll give him more of a chance, alright?” She kissed my cheek and thanked me before heading back towards my cabin. “And I better not walk into anything disgusting when I get back.”
She didn’t respond but I knew she heard me. I looked around, got my bearings and then headed to my hiding spot. A small shed that once used to house hunters in this area a long time ago. They didn’t come around anymore, thanks to me. I grinned at that.
Reaching inside the tiny shed, I grabbed a pack of cigarettes I hid for days that I was flying and wanted a smoke break. I grabbed the green lighter and lit the end.
“Never took you for a smoker.”
That deep, Scottish voice had me practically jumping out of my skin. “Zander, I swear to the gods, don’t sneak up on me like that!”
The man was way too adorable for his own good, and he knew it. “Sorry, love. Didn’t mean to startle you.”
He didn’t look sorry. He looked amused. I took a hit of my cigarette and blew the smoke out slowly as my mind raced with possibility. “How long have you been out here?”
He leaned against the tree behind him and smiled wide. Why wasn’t he wearing a shirt? He even had a little spattering of that strawberry blond hair right above his very low sitting pant line. Why did he have to be so hot? “Long enough to learn quite a bit about you and your sisters.”
I felt my heart race. I glanced around, seeing if Moiragetes was gonna pop out of nowhere and condemn me to a life of servitude. Either that, or some bad shit was gonna happen because of this. “Zander, please. Whatever you heard, you can’t tell anybody.”
“Which part? The part where your little sister is part goddess, or the part where you’re gay?”
My heart stopped. “Both.”
He seemed pleased by that. “I had a feeling you were in the game, ya know.” He mimicked swinging a bat.
I frowned. “You date women, I thought.”
Zander shrugged. “I date who I like, male, female… even an alien or two. Well, ’date’ is a bit of a stretch.” He pushed himself up from the tree and walked over to me. He seemed extremely… excited.
“Why are you grinning like that?”
“Because I wanna play.”
Play what? And if it’s what I think it is, why would he want to play with me? “Um… I can’t. I, I got this thing. With my sister. I need to go check on her.”
“No. Just me.”
“What if you try and do something stupid and I have to bail you out?” He was enjoying this. I could see it in his fantastic smile.
“You’re the irrational one, not me.”
“So not true. I’m wild, not irrational. You tend to let emotions control you, which is far more dangerous.”
“I do not.”
“Oh, really?” I nodded. “Then why haven’t you come out yet?” I looked away, wishing I could tell him all about my past, that he would understand. You can tell me on the road trip.
I whipped my head up, shocked.
What the fuck? Nobody could get into my mind. Not even my siblings. How could he not only speak to me telepathically, but also hear my thoughts? “Maybe if you’re a good boy on our trip, I’ll tell you.”
He turned around and headed towards my house. “Where are you going? And you’re not coming with me.”
“We are going back to your cabin. And yes, I am.” I just shook my head and followed behind him. He’s gonna cause me a lot of grief.
Of course I wasn’t. “Yeah, I’ll survive.” I didn’t turn to look at her. Didn’t have the stomach for it.
“You’re not Fine, Sage.”
“No, but I will be.” I stared thoughtfully at the carving Hawthorne had started. Nothing but chipped wood at this point. A beautiful pine that smelled like Christmas. Sorrel loved Christmas, which always confused me, considering our Christmases usually consisted of whatever wild life I could catch and stories or songs I would make up to entertain my siblings.
I felt Denni moving closer to me. It made me extremely uncomfortable. “Talk to me, Sage.”
I laughed more venomously than I had intended. “Shouldn’t you be talking to Corey?”
“Sage, that’s not fair.”
“None of this is fair, Denni.” Not a damn little bit of this shit. “None of this should have happened.” I didn’t want to think of Sorrel anymore. I wanted the pain to go away. I wish I could switch off my grief. I cleared the lump in my throat as best I could. “So, how are you gonna find out who the father is without Corey knowing?”
“I can talk to Eric, see if he has some kind of potion or something that can—”
I turned to face her, cut her off before she said more than I was willing to deal with. “Don’t bother.”
“What do mean? Don’t you wanna know if you’re gonna be a father or not?”
“Not really.” That wasn’t an entire truth, but she didn’t need to know that. “Corey would be a better father than me, anyway. The kid’s gonna be better off raised by him than me. Your other kids would be better off with him, too.” Not to mention that Corey had always dreamed of a big family, had the chance at having one now, and was madly in love with Denni.
She looked like she had just bit into a lemon. “You don’t want to know if the baby is yours?”
Of course she wouldn’t understand. Hell, I didn’t even understand completely. “Denni, I just lost one brother, I’m not gonna lose another.”
“So you’d rather risk losing your child?”
“Ignorance is bliss. Isn’t that what they say? If you never tell me differently, I’ll never know, I’ll never be missing anything, will I?”
We stared each other down for a while. At least, it felt like a long time. The night had settled around us, causing the cat inside of her to peak through her eyes. Flickers of magic danced through them, and I knew then that her jaguar was pissed. “Wow. I would have never guess when I met you that you would be such a little pussy. Guess I picked the right brother, after all.”
That cut deep; deeper than I thought was possible. “Fuck this. I don’t need this on top of everything else that’s going on, Denni! My twin brother and his wife were brutally murdered only three and a half months ago, my nephew is traumatized and may never recover, and you choose Corey over me. So, what do you want from me? You want me to fucking cry about it?! I have worse shit to cry about than losing you.”
“We were never dating, remember? You had too much on your plate and didn’t want a relationship.” She looked away, steeling herself. It somehow made her petite frame larger when she did that. Maybe it was the jaguar. She looked back at me. “I didn’t choose him over you, Sage. You told me we would never be more than casual lovers. You encouraged me to go on a date with him! I can’t help that I ended up falling for him, alright? It wasn’t in the plans. Neither was me getting pregnant, but it happened.” The magic in her eyes died and I saw sadness take its place. “I want to know that you’re actually dealing with this instead of stuffing it all down like you normally do.”
I turned to head deeper into the forest. I just didn’t have it in me to deal with this shit right now. I just couldn’t.
“Sage, don’t walk away. Let’s talk about this. Please.”
“Just leave me alone, Denni.” Please. Just leave me alone. That’s all I’m asking for right now. I can deal when I’m ready.
She stopped following me, heard my thoughts clearly. Good. I had grown tired of talking. I’ve grown tired of a lot of things.
I wasn’t sure how long I stayed out there. Time seemed to be nonexistent as I sat there, forcing myself to hold back tears. I had found a place to sit and think, which was really the last thing I needed to do.
At one point, I thought I heard Hawthorne’s brother, James, screeching loudly into the night. Another time, I thought one of my fellow wolves had come out to check on me and left shortly after. Eventually, I decided to walk some more, walk deeper into the forest where I had never trekked. Somewhere that no one would find me.
That was when I came across something so magnificent, I thought maybe it had been a mirage. It was a pond, surrounded by lightning bugs and overgrown weeping willows. Deep purple and gold and blue flowers filled the bank of the pond and sparkled under the light of so many of those majestic insects. Despite the darkness around us, the pond seemed to glow, as if it had its own internal light. It was the strangest thing I had ever seen.
I waltzed through the flowers and brushed my hands against them. For a moment, thoughts of my troubles, of the overwhelming pain I felt, seemed to fall back, deep in the recesses of my mind. It was amazing to have a brief moment of peace.
I had made a full circle around the pond when the image of a woman formed in front of me, made of a multitude of tiny crystal blue lights. She was tall, with strong, sharp cheek bones and what I could only assume was dark brown hair. She wasn’t really there, just an image of a woman made by the energy of the gods. I knew that well enough.
All gods were intimidating, but she had something else that I couldn’t place. It felt worldly, earthly. She reached out to me and touched my forehead, and I could hear her in my mind. Close your eyes, Sage. I want you to see me.
So, I did. I could stay there and wallow in self pity and grief, or I could take this moment to let go, allow this goddess to help me, however she felt was necessary. I closed my eyes and felt myself drift into a blissful, comatose state. I was fully aware of the world around me, of reality, but I suddenly found myself in another dimension. A different state of being.
It was dark and light at once, life and death. The ying and yang that held the universe together. It was the energy of all things. And it was so overwhelming that I felt as if I might throw up. The darkness became clearer to me then. Dark, shadowed caverns all around me with minimal light in the form of small torches that were spread too far to make it comfortable. Two corridors lay before me, neither one more welcoming than the other.
A shadow moved inside the corridor to my left. It was brief and indiscernible, but it left me cold and curious. I steeled myself as best I could. “Man up” as they say. I stepped into the darkness, allowed the dim light at the end to guide me. I had to use the damp, chilled walls to keep my balance from time to time since I felt as if I were tilting side to side ever time I took a step.
Thankfully the corridor wasn’t as long as it seemed. I rounded the corner rather quickly to find myself in a large expanse of a room. A woman knelt over a large plant, stroking the leaf with tenderness and whispered kindly to it before turning to another plant, even larger than the other.
I had a feeling the entire room was full of plants, although I couldn’t be quite certain, as the only light was from the torch on the wall behind me. And that left me with another question: how they could grow in this environment?
“They grow because I give them life.” The soft cadence of a voice echoed in the cavern around me. She stood slowly from her knelt position, lifting her hands to the ceiling and stretching them wide as a white orb formed above us. It brightened the room so much that i had to squint. Logic hadn’t escaped me. I was fully aware that I wasn’t in reality, but it didn’t stop my eyes from aching at the intensity of it.
Once my eyes adjusted, I was able to fully appreciate the room I was in. The ceiling was far too high to be touched by the light from her orb. Large trees and plants, bushes and even a stream flowed through the cavern so naturally, it seemed as if they had always been there. It reminded me of an oasis, but with plants from all over the world.
I thought I had heard birds, perhaps even a squirrel or two, but I wasn’t sure. I didn’t see anything moving within the miniature forest. I figured it would take several long minutes to walk through it all. “It’s far more than you see.” I didn’t even realize she had moved until she was standing next to me. She was tall and slightly curvy, with a gown so sheer that it left nothing to the imagination. I tried hard not to think of her breasts.
I forced my eyes onto her face. Her skin was golden and her hair a dark, chocolatey brown. Her eyes, they shimmered like liquid gold and amber. Her cheekbones swelled with a kind smile. I cleared my throat. “Um… nice show.” As soon as I said the words, my mind went south and I about choked on my tongue. “I mean the light. It’s neat. Not your breasts. Not that I was looking, I just didn’t want you to think I meant that.”
“Hush wolf.” Her voice was soft and dreamlike and she stepped closer to me. “I have felt your pain. You hide in the forest to release it.”
I stepped back. “I’m not hiding. And I’m not trying to release anything into the forest.”
“But you are. I feel your pain every time you go to the forest. You’re afraid of being seen as weak, but we are all weak, Sage. In one way or another, we have our weaknesses. Your weakness stems from your parents.” I watched her slowly, not agreeing or disagreeing, although I knew she was right. No. I just wanted to watch her, to follow her with my eyes and notice the subtle way her body moved and flowed.
She began walking through her miniature forest, marveling in her creations. “The world is old, Sage. Far predating your kind. The Zeotheons are old, but they are nothing compared to the age of others. The god that created you predates time itself. In a brief moment of nothingness, he could see the potential of the atoms. Of the protons and neutrons. He did not create all that you see, but he most definitely helped guide us all in creating it.”
She stopped and knelt between two bushes. She held her hand out and encouraged a large red flower to grow before her. She closed her eyes and whispered something to the plant. I believe I caught her saying something about a sacrifice before the flower and half of the stem fell softly into her open hand. She kissed the pedals and stood back up. “Do you ever take the time to think about your own sacrifices? What you have given up in order to protect those you love?”
“No. I just do it. I do what others won’t.”
She stood and walked towards me, still holding the flower in her hands. “You do what your parents failed to do, right? You play the mother, father, big brother, caretaker. Do you ever want to be happy?”
“Who says I’m not?”
She smiled and I found it wickedly seductive. “You cannot fool me, Sage. I, too, have given my happiness away for the happiness of others.”
“You’re a goddess of the earth, aren’t you?”
She nodded. “I am Pachamama,” the gold in her eyes lit up as her face grew more serious, “And you are here because I want you to help me.”
“And how could I possibly help you?”
“I cannot leave this place. I have bound myself here to protect those that I hold dear. Because of that, I cannot protect what is mine.” She handed me the flower. It looked like a mix of carnation and rose with a long, wiry stem and crooked leaves. “You protect mine, I will hold yours.”
“What do you mean by that? Protect yours? Hold mine?” I didn’t mean to sound frustrated but I certainly did. It irritated me that she was talking about my sacrifices and now she wanted me to add another one. “How about I decline? I’ve had enough shit happen.”
I turned to walk away. “He is your son, you know.” I stopped just as the darkness of the corridor blanketed my face. “The child she bears? He is yours. And he will be afflicted.”
I felt my stomach curl into a ball. “What do you mean” I spat out between gritted teeth.
“The little boy is special. He will inherit from you both… if he lives.”
“He’s gonna be a jaguar and a wolf?” I’ve never heard of such a thing happening.
I turned and watched as she sashayed towards me. “And his body will be too weak to make it through childbirth. His heart will not be strong enough.”
“So he’s gonna die.”
She nodded slowly as she came chest to chest with me. “But he doesn’t have to. I could save him.”
“Perfect. And what do I have to do?”
Her eyes sparkled once more, burned with their internal light. Her expression was severe as she reached up and graced my face. “You just promise me. Promise me that you will take care of my blood, and I will take care of yours.”
This could end bad for me. Most things do. “And who is it that I’m supposed to be protecting?”
“You will know when it’s time.”
I swallowed hard and closed my eyes tight. This just can’t be happening, can it? On top of all the other shit going on, now I had to make this decision. A decision I wouldn’t have thought I would ever be able to make.
Did I want the child to survive? Did I want the hassle of it all? “What if I think we will all be better off if he doesn’t survive.” I opened my eyes and looked up at a face ridden with sympathy. “What if I don’t want to deal with what might happen afterwards?”
“Do you want to be the cause of this child’s death?”
“I wouldn’t be the cause! He’s a afflicted, remember? That’s not on me, don’t try putting that on me!”
Her eyes flashed with magic. “You have a chance to save his life. If you choose not to accept, you will blame yourself forever. That’s not a threat. It’s reality, and you know I speak the truth, Sage.”
I wanted to scream. Maybe lay on the ground and throw a real tantrum just to express the emotions that were coursing through me. “And what happens if I agree, and I don’t keep my end of the bargain? Will the child die?”
“Will I die?”
She stepped close and touched the stem of the flower. “Once an oath has been made, those matters are out of my hands. Fate decides.”
Her eyes blazed with a harsh honesty. “Fate will decide whose blood will be spilled to satisfy the oath.” Oh, this isn’t good at all. It’s so fucked up, I don’t even know what to think. I could die, my family members could die, or the baby could die. A baby that will die during birth.
A baby that Corey will be completely and madly in love with by then, who will be heartbroken at the death of the child he believes to be his.
Tears started to fall down my face, tears I hadn’t shed since the day I found Sorrel massacred on his living room floor. “Well, here’s hoping fate is kind and kills me if I fuck up.”
She smiled so wide it looked almost painful. Then I felt something sharp rake across my fingers. I looked down and released the flower that was in my hand and stared in awe while it floated in mid air and my fingers bled from a cut it had obviously given me.
Pachamama reached out and grazed her fingers along the leaf and slit the tips of her fingers. “It must be bound with blood.” Then she took her left hand and interlaced it mine so abruptly, it almost knocked me to the ground. “Now we pledge to each other, Sage.”
I woke up on the ground, next to the pond. The lightning bugs had settled down and the sun was just starting to find its way above the horizon. I stood and dusted myself off before looking around to try and find my way from this sacred ground.
I’d had enough gods for the night.
As I started to leave, I looked down at my fingers and saw tiny cuts that were already healing. I fingered them with my thumb thoughtfully. I had a really bad feeling about all of this. I was already regretting it.